DUBAI - Pakistan and New Zealand dedicated the trophy for their two Twenty20 matches in the Dubai starting on Thursday in memory of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes who died last week. Hughes died last Thursday, two days after being hit by a bouncer in a first class match in Sydney, leaving the cricketing world to mourn his death.

Hughes's funeral was held early Wednesday, as Pakistan and New Zealand prepare for the shortest format of the game after drawing a preceding Test series 1-1. Pakistan's Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi said Hughes's tragic death has left the cricketing world in a shock. "Hughes died very young and his tragic death has left everyone shocked," said Afridi on Wednesday. "We are thankful to the sponsors who have decided to dedicate the trophy in memory of Hughes as a mark of respect," said Afridi on Wednesday.

Afridi has promised to ramp up his batting form ahead of the two series against New Zealand. The 34-year-old Afridi has been very effective with his fast leg-spin bowling in the shorter formats of the game, but his power-packed batting has lacked a punch in recent times.

“No doubt I have concentrated a lot on my bowling for the last three-four years, and I do know that my batting is anyways a ‘once-in-a-blue-moon’ type of a batting,” said Afridi, whose last ODI century came against Bangladesh in June 2010. “However, I want to make sure that I focus on my batting also because it is very important for me. There have been many matches in the past that I have been able to win for Pakistan on the basis of my batting alone.”

While admitting that the focus is on the upcoming World Cup, and hence more on the five-match ODI series starting December 8, Afridi said they wanted win each and every match so that the confidence is maintained by the team members. “I think the boys are feeling very confident ahead of the series and my side is a very well-balanced one,” said Afridi.

“You can’t compare the T20s with the ODI cricket. It’s a totally different format. But I think a victory, and to have a winning combination is very important. You feel more confident after a victory. Each victory and each game before the World Cup is important to us.”

Afridi welcomed the return of two of his experienced fast bowlers for the series, but played down the absence of Saeed Ajmal. “Both Umar and Wahab have performed very well for Pakistan in the past. They are both looking very fit and they seem to be in good form. I am very happy to see them in the squad,” he added.

“I have always said that Saeed has been one of the best bowlers in the world. He has performed brilliantly for Pakistan. But if you look at the last series, our spinners have done very well despite his absence and played a very important role in our wins. I believe that Pakistan has got good bowling strength. We have bowlers sitting who are waiting for their chance to get into the team. It’s not as if we are struggling to find another spinner. I think we have always been blessed with good bowling combinations.”

Kane Williamson, the new skipper of the New Zealand team in the absence of Brendon McCullum, who has been rested, is hoping to carry the momentum gained from the victory in Sharjah but revealed that Twenty20 is totally different challenge. “I think the Test was a nice victory and you have some nice feelings coming after a good victory. But we have a very different side and a very different format, so our focus is very much with what’s on front of us. Although it’s very nice to come off the back of a victory, the challenge is very different. It’s probably not that relevant going into a T20 match.”

Williamson will be missing star players like McCullum and in-form pacers like Tim Southee and Trent Boult, who all have been rested, but he is not worried. “Brendon has been setting things in place and moving the team forward and I suppose this is just a matter of taking over that baton a little bit. Although Brendon is not there and his skill and leadership will be missed, we have got a lot of experience in the team. There are the likes of Kyle Mills, Danny Vettori and Ross Taylor and various other players who have played a huge amount of cricket.”